Is it possible for me to have a vaginal delivery after a previous c-section?
Real Mom Problem
“I'm having a bit of a dilemma and would like some advice. I'm expecting my second child and would like to try a vaginal birth after cesarean. I gave birth to my son eight years ago through emergency c-section and my doctor says they don't do VBACs because the risks are too high. I'm torn between just going through a second c-section and looking for a second opinion.”
- 1. If you have had a cesarean delivery with a previous child, you can opt for another cesarean or a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)
- 2. VBAC risks include a low risk of uterine rupture
- 3. Risks of multiple cesareans include possible hysterectomy, injury to other organs, and problems with the placenta
- 4. Always consult with your doctor or midwife to make the best choice for you and your baby
Real Mom Solutions
It's not impossible to give birth vaginally if you've had a c-section previously. See what these moms have to say about the benefits and risks of vaginal birth after cesearean section, otherwise known as VBAC.
It Depends on Your History
It depends on the type of c-section you had. What direction does your scar go? If it is vertical, most doctors won't do a VBAC. If it is horizontal, you may be a candidate for one. Do some online searching for doctors in your area that accept VBAC patients. They have been trained for them and are equipped for them.
It depends on your individual situation. If your internal incision (the one into the uterus) was vertical, then no, you cannot have a VBAC. If you have complications, or conditions outside of pregnancy, that would make going into labor hazardous, then no, you cannot. If you have a normal routine pregnancy, if you go into labor on your own before 40 weeks, and you can find a practitioner willing to try a trial of labor, then perhaps. I don't want to sound like I am anti-VBAC, because I am not; I think every mother should have the chance to try for a VBAC, but I am also cautious, for many reasons.
It Depends On Your Doctor
It depends on your doctor. I have had two c-sections and it has been eight years since my last pregnancy, but my doctor says "absolutely no" to a VBAC. She will not risk it after two prior ones.
I had my daughter five years ago via c-section. With this pregnancy, I'm having, or at least I'm attempting, a VBAC. My doctor is very pro-VBAC and told me because of my age and where my incision is located, I'm a great candidate. If they just give you the general "It's too risky" without specifics about your case, I would look for a second opinion. Try calling your insurance company and see if they can refer you to someone.
Be strong and get that second opinion. If you're healthy and baby is healthy, I don't see any reason not to try for a VBAC.
Yes, you can have a VBAC, and you CAN go past your due date. It's not a question if YOU can do it, but if you have a supportive doctor and hospital.
Be Aware of All the Risks & Benefits
Generally, a VBAC is safer than a repeat c-section, especially if you plan on having more kids. The risk of surgery grows with each surgery and the risk from the scar tissue that can cause issue with placement and health of the placenta. There is no way a doctor or hospital can "ban" a VBAC; that would be illegal, because it takes away a patient's right to informed consent and forces them to consent to a surgery.
I had an emergency c-section with my first and am planning a VBAC with this second child due in February. For me it came down to risk factors, recovery times and long-term complications, which can arise from repeat c-sections. The risk factor of a uterine rupture is very low, plus the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have recently changed the policy in favor of VBACs. C-sections are major abdominal surgery and there is always scar tissue which develops from surgery. This scar tissue can create further problems in subsequent surgeries (ie: other organs can get nicked in the process). The risk of requiring a hysterectomy rises with each subsequent c-section. In general, recovery time from vaginal births is shorter and less complicated. I have a toddler to take care of once this baby is born and I need to be able to be back on my feet in the shortest amount of time.
The pros to choosing VBAC are huge! The maternal morbidity rate is LOWER in women who VBAC. ACOG (American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology) have stated it's SAFER for most women to at least "try" a VBAC. It's healthier for baby, healthier for their lungs; it helps squeeze all the mucous out, whereas with a c-section they don't have that opportunity. Healing time is usually much quicker with a vaginal birth. The risk of a uterine rupture is extremely low, less than 1%. There are higher risks with a c-section.
I recommend you fight for what you want! Out of all the risks of VBACs, the one to worry about is uterine rupture, and that's less than 1%. I did a lot of reading before I chose what we were going to do, and VBAC is safer because every major surgery has its risks.